Pioneer Festival: History in the making

The San Juans were once known as the “Bread Basket” of Puget Sound - Contributed photo
The San Juans were once known as the “Bread Basket” of Puget Sound
— image credit: Contributed photo

The late summer harvest of today harkens back to an earlier era, a time when agricultural production was a necessity of survival and farms were anything but a hobby, when the joint-occupation of San Juan Island by military men of two nations set the stage for the island’s future development, and when the cultivation of natural resources of both land and sea left an indelible imprint on the island’s rural community and on the people that called it home.

HistoricalFrom the Pig War to the heyday of farming (the San Juans were once known as the “Bread Basket” of Puget Sound), to the height of the island’s fishing industry and its rabbit roundups, the history and heritage of San Juan Island will take center stage at the San Juan County Pioneer Festival, Saturday, September 21, on the grounds of San Juan Island Historical Museum. Gates open at 10 a.m. ; admission is free, donations encouraged.

Co-sponsored by the Historical Museum, Friday Harbor Grange No. 225, Battery D Foundation, San Juan Island National Historical Park and this newspaper, the Journal of the San Juan Islands, the Pioneer Festival features presentations, events and demonstrations designed to showcase the experiences and the spirit of the early settler families and the life and time in which they lived.

Descendants of some of the island’s prominent pioneer families will be on hand to talk about the family’s legacy in the islands. Life during the Pig War era will be revisited through various demonstrations of music, blacksmithing and carpentry, as well as with demonstrations of black-powder rifled muskets and the firing of the Battery D howitzer cannon, which certainly commands its own attention. The intricacies of butter churning, apple cider pressing, and spinning and weaving will also be on display.

Island history and heritage will be in the spotlight, but as with any “festival”, the event also includes a wide array of fun-filled activities, such as three-legged races, cake walk, sack races and homemade fruit pie contest. Break out your best recipe and enter to win; judging begins at 10:30 a.m.Historical

An assortment of food items will be available for purchase, hot dogs, hamburgers, soft drinks and beer and wine, with proceeds benefitting the Historical Museum.

For more information, contact SJ Historical Museum, 378-3949, or visit


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